The Environment Agency - England and Wales

10-point plan finds millions of pounds in a rubbish dump

Wales could save itself millions of pounds each year if it followed a 10-point plan to improve how it disposes of rubbish, according to a new report commissioned by Environment Agency Wales. ‘Waste Not, Want Not’, by the Environment Protection Advisory Committee, an advisory group for Environment Agency Wales, highlights key areas where better management of waste could have economic as well as environmental benefits.  The report has been presented to Welsh Assembly Government Environment, Sustainability and Housing Minister Jane Davidson to inform and contribute to the Wales Waste Strategy.

The cost of disposing waste is increasing year on year, as landfill tax increases by £8 per tonne each year. With waste having a significant impact on climate change, this report recommends a drive to minimise the waste produced in Wales in the first place.

One of the main areas where huge financial gains can be made is to reduce packaging and encourage retailers and manufacturers to change the current trend of over packaged goods.

There are also major opportunities for small and medium sized businesses to make substantial savings by taking a fresh look at the amount of waste they produce, and view waste as a valuable resource. 77% of mixed business waste sent to landfill last year could have been reused or recycled and had a material value of £30m.

Professor Tom Pritchard, Chairman of the advisory committee, said:

“Even at a time when markets are slow, there is a continued demand for materials that used to be considered waste. A change of perception can turn rubbish into a financial asset.

“Public and industry perception needs to change so that they see a product rather than a problem. Re-using white and electrical goods and furniture, and re-conditioning computers rather than throwing them away, is a cheaper and waste-free option.

“Organisations such as Freecycle and charities who re-condition items providing much-needed goods for communities are a way to turn the unwanted into the needed.

“There are 10 key recommendations within the report and if we implemented them all we’d not only help protect our environment, we’d also save ourselves an awful lot of money in the long term.”

Jane Davidson, currently working on a new waste strategy for Wales, said:

“I welcome this report from a group of key stakeholders. Their findings and recommendations are extremely useful and I agree with the vast majority of them. Many have already been put into practice or are planned, or are likely to feature strongly in the new Waste Strategy which will go out for consultation at the end of April.

“We need to build on the successes of our current waste strategy, Wise About Waste, and go up several gears towards a zero waste goal. This includes preventing as much waste as possible, and using waste that is produced as a valuable resource. Behavioural change across all sectors will be key.'

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